A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins – including B6, B8 and B12 – can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone.
Schizophrenia affects around 1% of the population and is among the most disabling and costly long term conditions worldwide. Currently, treatment is based around the administration of antipsychotic drugs.
The researchers reviewed all randomized clinical trials reporting effects of vitamin or mineral supplements on psychiatric symptoms in people with schizophrenia.
In what is the first meta-analysis carried out on this topic, they identified 18 clinical trials with a combined total of 832 patients receiving antipsychotic treatment for schizophrenia.
B-vitamin interventions which used higher dosages or combined several vitamins were consistently effective for reducing psychiatric symptoms, whereas those which used lower doses were ineffective.
“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients,” said lead author Joseph Firth, based at the University’s Division of Psychology and Mental Health. “This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”
Also, the available evidence suggests that B-vitamin supplements may be most beneficial when implemented early on, as b-vitamins were most likely to reduce symptoms when used in studies of patients with shorter illness durations.
“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia,” said co-author Jerome Sarris, Professor of Integrative Mental Health at Western Sydney University. “These new findings also fit with our latest research examining how multi-nutrient treatments can reduce depression and other disorders.”
The research team say more studies are now needed to discover how nutrients act on the brain to improve mental health, and to measure effects of nutrient-based treatments on other outcomes such as brain functioning and metabolic health.
(Source: University of Manchester)
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